Missy Franklin Criticized Joining High School Swim Team: How Dare These People?

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIJanuary 11, 2013

Too fast, too good, it's unfair! Except, no, it's not.
Too fast, too good, it's unfair! Except, no, it's not.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Times story describing Missy Franklin's participation on her high school swim team is by and large a feel-good read.

Franklin predictably dominated in the events she swam for Regis Jesuit High School, but even the girls she lapped multiple times were gushing in their excitement at the opportunity to swim against a four-time Olympic champion, an athlete they watched on television just last summer.

There is one problem, though, and it is this quote: "Some people have criticized Franklin for still swimming for her high school team, saying she has an unfair advantage."

The Denver Post went a step further, narc-ing out the perpetrators as the parents of Franklin's opponents.

It is these people who can take a four-time Olympic gold medalist's participation in a high school swim meet—and make it about themselves—that ruin an otherwise happy narrative.

And it illustrates one of the great flaws in modern American society: Instead of celebrating an exceptional person's talent, or success, or wealth, we immediately react with the intent to bring that person down to the mean.

Which means, in Missy Franklin's case, that because she is so much faster than her peers (teammates and opponents alike), "some people" feel comfortable suggesting that she should not participate at all.

In a swim meet for her own high school, where she is properly enrolled.

In a competition where she qualifies by age and gender and is not cheating in any manner.

During a time in her life where she should be allowed to enjoy "normal" high school experiences wherever she can ("normal" being a relative word where she is concerned.)

Troubling questions come from this sort of emotional response from the parents of these girls.

Do the parents of these opponents think Missy Franklin did all that training and won all those gold medals at the Olympics just as a prelude to her ultimate goal of humiliating their slower, weaker daughters in a high school dual meet?

Should Missy Franklin be asked to stay in the bleachers so lesser competitors can feel better about themselves?

And, if Regis Jesuit High School wants to win anything this season, why should they force their best swimmer to sit?

Apparently, if you listen to "some people" who complained about Franklin annihilating their daughters at this meet, the answers to those last three questions are yes, yes and because we want our less-talented girls to have a chance to win.

America did not used to have such a problem with greatness. It was celebrated, admired, even sought after.

Now, though, if you swim too fast, they not only complain about it.

They want you to stop.

Pretty sad.